© Alice J. Gayley, all rights reservedIn the latter part of May, 1861, Alfred W. Chantry, of Philadelphia, who had been for several years connected with the Second Regiment, Second Brigade, First Division of the State militia, recruited a company for service in the Reserve Corps, and tendered it to the Governor. But the full proportion of troops from Philadelphia for that corps having been already authorized, it could not be accepted. He accordingly applied to the Secretary of War, who gave him verbal authority to recruit a, regiment. Recruiting stations were immediately opened in various parts of the city of Philadelphia, and, aided by James Harvey, also of the militia, and Henry C. Cooper, the ranks were rapidly filled. Impatient of delay, some of the men who had been recruited for this, joined other organizations, among others Captain Harvey with his company.
On the 13th of June notice was received that if the regiment was fully recruited and clothed in ten days' time from that date, an order for mustering it into service would be issued. This promise gave a new impetus to recruiting, and in a few days fully eight hundred men were enrolled. But the government had no clothing to issue, and the order for mustering was delayed. in their expectations, the men began to drop off and join other commands. It was accordingly decided, to more effectually retain the men, that barracks should be secured. The Girard House, then unoccupied, was taken for this purpose. This precaution proved unavailing, and in three days, from the 26th to 29th of Jane, fully four hundred withdrew.
On the 1st of July, the requisite orders having been received, the first company was mustered into service. The companies now greatly reduced in numbers, and the officers unwilling to consolidate their commands, it was found impossible under existing regulations to have them mustered in. Headquarters were changed from the Girard House to Richmond Hall, in the northern part of the city. Clothing had been ordered on private account, but the contractors were unwilling to deliver it without an order from each man, securing the price from his monthly pay.
In the midst of these difficulties, Benjamin L. Berry, Esq., of Philadelphia, who had, from the beginning, manifested much interest in the regiment, came forward and generously offered to become personally responsible for the entire clothing of men and officers. The offer was accepted, and complete outfits of grey cloth, it being impossible to obtain blue, were speedily supplied.
On the 22d of July, the Collector of the Port of Philadelphia, William B. Thomas, assigned the building west of the Custom House to the use of the regiment, and headquarters were accordingly moved thither. On the 26th a meeting of the line officers of companies already mustered in was held, at which John Patrick was elected Lieutenant Colonel, and James B. Freeman, Major, in place of James Harvey and Henry C. Cooper, who had to this time acted as Lieutenant Colonel and Major respectively, the former having been transferred by order of General Mansfield, from being Captain in the Twenty-seventh to accept this commission. Early in August the companies mustered into service went into camp at Camac's woods, in the northern part of the city.
On the 24th of August, in compliance with the urgent appeals of the Secretary of State, Colonel Slifer, the battalion, consisting of five companies under command of Colonel Chantry, proceeded to Washington, and was assigned to the first of three brigades which constituted the provisional division then under command of General Fitz John Porter. In the meantime the additional companies, recruited in Philadelphia, joined the regiment.
On the 20th of September the regiment was ordered to Darnstown, Maryland, to join the command of General Banks. Upon its arrival it was assigned to General Abercrombie's Brigade. The Adjutant's morning report of October 10th, showed a total strength of six hundred and twenty officers and men. Previous to this time it had been known as the Thirtieth Regiment, and was considered as an organization independent of the State of Pennsylvania. It was now made, by an order of the War Department, a part of the State quota, and was designated the Sixty-sixth of the line.
On the 21st of October, Abercrombie's Brigade was ordered across the Potomac, and upon landing was brought into position where it was held during the day, the enemy failing to appear. On the following morning it was ordered by General Banks to return. The forces under Colonel Baker, which crossed on the previous day at Edwards' Ferry, a few miles above, encountered a heavy force of the enemy at Ball's Bluff, and suffered a grievous defeat, Colonel Baker being killed. Returning to camp the regiment remained until November, when the division moved to Frederick, Maryland, where it went into winter quarters.
On the 18th of January, 1862, Colonel Chantry was relieved of his command, not having succeeded in raising his regiment to the maximum standard. Subsequently Lieutenant Colonel Patrick was commissioned Colonel, and Major Freeman Lieutenant Colonel. On the 6th of February the following officers resigned their commissions: Colonel Patrick, Captain J. N. Taylor, and Lieutenants Warnick, Freno, Hand, and Chantry.
Near the close of February the regiment was ordered to Washington. In consequence of its disorganized condition and the lack of sufficient numbers, an order was issued on the 1st of March, by the Governor of Pennsylvania, to disband it and to transfer the enlisted men to the Seventy-third and the Ninety-ninth Pennsylvania Regiments. Lieutenant Smith, of General Casey's staff, was directed to carry the order into effect. Much dissatisfaction prevailed in consequence, and the men, unwilling to obey the order, became mutinous. Finally through the influence of Captain Haslett, on whom, in the absence of field officers, the command devolved, they reluctantly yielded. Company B, Captain John R. Haslett, C, Lieutenant Henry J. Giltman, and D, Captain Michael A. Strong, were transferred to the Seventy-third Regiment, Colonel Koltes. Company A, Captain Alexander Thompson, and G, Captain John Moore, were transferred to the Ninety-ninth, Colonel Peter Fritz. Companies E, F, and K, commanded respectively by Captains Butcher, Pollard and Elsegood, were disbanded and the men distributed among the several companies of the Seventy-third. The supernumerary officers were mustered out of service, and thus the Sixty-sixth Regiment, after a term of service of nearly eight months, ceased to exist.
Source: Bates, Samuel P. History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65, Harrisburg, 1868-1871.
Organization:Organized at Philadelphia as 30th Pennsylvania Volunteers July and August, 1861.
Designation changed September, 1861.
Moved to Washington, D.C., September 20, 1861.
Attached to Abercrombie's Brigade, Banks' Division, Army Potomac.
Service:Duty on the Upper Potomac at Frederick, Md., till February, 1862.
Operations on the Potomac October 21-24, 1861.
Ordered to Washington, D.C., February, 1862, and consolidated with 73rd and 99th Pennsylvania Volunteers March 1, 1862.Source: Dyer, Frederick H. A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion Compiled and Arranged from Official Records of the Federal and Confederate Armies, Reports of he Adjutant Generals of the Several States, the Army Registers, and Other Reliable Documents and Sources.Des Moines, Iowa: The Dyer Publishing Company, 1908
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